Algeria’s Delightful Dolphins

With the Mediterranean Sea forming the country’s northern border, Algeria has access to a host of marine animals, some of the most fascinating being those belonging to the order Cetacea – whales, dolphins and porpoises. Taken from the ancient Greek word relating to the mythological sea monster Ceto, which was destroyed by Perseus, Cetology is the study and conservation of these magnificent creatures that are renowned for their amiable nature and high level of intelligence.

Dolphins found off the shores of Algeria include the Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis), the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (Stenella frontalis), and the Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis). The Rough-toothed Dolphin was first described in 1823 by French zoologist Georges Cuvier. As the name suggests, these narrow-beaked dolphins have a multitude of teeth with irregular, rough ridges. Unlike some dolphin species, the Rough-toothed Dolphin is not considered to be endangered.

The Atlantic Spotted Dolphin was also first described by Cuvier and is a particularly interesting species due to its huge variation in color as it matures. Calves are completely grey in color until they are weaned, following which they start to get spots. As they mature to the juvenile stage, they start to develop white spots on their flanks, with dark spots on their bellies. By the time the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin reaches maturity, its body appears black with a mass of white spots. Although found mainly in the North Atlantic Ocean, these attractive marine animals do find their way into the Mediterranean Sea and have been seen off the coast of Algeria.

Being called a “Common” Dolphin in no way detracts from the beauty and intelligence of the Delphinus delphis. Modern cetologists have noted that there are two species of the Common Dolphin, with the Short-beaked Common Dolphin being classified as the Delphinus delphis, and the Long-beaked Common Dolphin classified as Delphinus capensis. Long-beaked Common Dolphins are more likely to be spotted from Algeria’s shoreline as they travel in groups, referred to as “pods”, and leap out of the water in a breathtaking display of agility and energy.

Other marine animals belonging to the order Cetacea that may be seen off the coast of Algeria include the Pygmy Killer Whale (Feresa attenuate); the Orca (Orcinus orca); and the Pilot whale (Globicephala melas), all of which fall into the family Delphinidae despite being referred to as whales. So, if you are visiting any of the coastal destinations of Algeria, you may be rewarded by the antics of the dolphins that enjoy the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.